Just finishing up my year at SCIC. I'd previously commented on this so I'm going to be a bit lazy and copy and paste, as well as replied to e-mails from other teachers etc. Generally I'm super happy with my year here. Leaving this place has had me feeling like a waterfall for the past two weeks. If it's so great, why am I leaving? Because, that's how I roll! Honestly if I hadn't spent 18 months in this city already I probably would have stayed for a second year. Oh and a man friend would have helped. Alas, decision made and bags packed... well almost.
Ok so here goes!
Super quick run down:
You would be teaching university level students in the city of Nanning or Guilin. The pay starts at 5000rmb (more if you have experience) and nice housing is provided along with a 12000rmb year end bonus. There is no sign up fee. You would start in late Aug until June 2013. Also it is the program that I just finished my contract with so I can vouch that it is an honest, safe, reliable program and is foreigner friendly. They will not take advantage of you or any of the other horrible horror stories you may have heard from other schools in China. The job is really a good find!
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There are a few SCIC colleges scattered around China apparently. I'm in Nanning, so I can only talk specifically about this one. The location of the University is about 20-30 minutes away from town but if you are so inclined you don't ever really need to leave the university grounds - everything you need is here.
The staff... some are awesome, some are not. Same same as everywhere else I assume. There's enough variety that I'm sure you'll find someone who clicks with you. The age range is from 20 - 60, couples, singles, American's, Australian's, Canadians etc.
The working conditions are pretty good from my point of view - the amount of emails can be frustrating, as can the office politics but honestly I feel they are very small things. A 2 minute rant to someone and then you generally are over it.
The work week is about 20 hours, but time needs to be set aside for marking, grading, and lesson planning. I teach second year which is different to first year. I personally do at least 30-40 hours a week... but I also want to study teaching so it works well for me to do this.
I have a few star students but they are all definitely pretty pleasant. Nothing throwing a lolly at them over arm can't fix any way.
Hope that helps.
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Well Nanning Winter is COLD! But there are a few factors to consider when looking at my answer. Firstly, I come from South East Queensland, which has a pretty temperate climate all year around. Secondly, I abhor the cold and the moment it gets below 15 degrees I start walking around with my blanket around my shoulders. Thirdly, Nanning winter is a combination of cold temperatures and rain, lots and lots of rain. So it is a very damp Winter. Being in the designated 'South' of China it means that the buildings here are not equipped for the cold - walls start leaking, tiles break, everything is just damp constantly. Forget about reverse cycle air conditioning, the warmest place in the whole of Nanning is snuggled in bed with someone. Though close to my idea of an ideal situation, I've yet to perfect teaching via Skype from my bed. As such.... I think Nanning is very cold, and so do the other Australian's I've met here. The Canadians are saying it's 'cooler'. Hopefully that helps a tad!
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To make this easier, I'm going to attack your questions in the order you asked, to make it simpler I'm going to number them.
1. The sun does shine for most of the year here, however for 3-4 months over Winter it's grey, damp, and rainy. This is tolerable if you use your Summer break to go to a country such as Vietnam for a bit of a respite.
2. Nanning is polluted, however the campus is relatively clean. There's not so much of the 'oh grey cloud coming, must cover mouth and hold breathe until it floats past us' here.
3. The apartments are of varying levels of liveability. I lived in a bit of a dump before I got here so I'm actually really happy with where I am. As you may have noticed I did say I moved apartment recently. This was to gain more privacy and a little more quiet. A building was being worked on directly outside my apartment... needless to say I never want to be well known, I don't know how people cope with the constant privacy intrusions. I live on East campus which is about 20 min walk or 5 min ride from the buildings we work in. There are apartments on the west side which seem to be bigger, but they have their own problems. Some people are annoyed by the distance - but I enjoy it (enough time to listen to some tunes on the way to class/way home).
4. It is humid in Summer here. Saying that I'm from the East coast of Australia (Gold Coast) so I don't find the heat oppressive but the humidity at times can be a little unbearable. These days aren't too common, and again there is the opportunity to escape to drier pastures during the Summer break.
5. There is variety in food - Korean, Western, Chinese (couldn't resist), and Thai. All are relatively accessible from the university (about half an hour away via bus). Indeed you can get a burger and brew!
6. I'm pretty cheap when it comes to cost of living - I try and live below the electricity limit allowed by the university, I don't eat Western foods very often, don't buy cheese, bread etc. My pay is 5500 and I manage to save at LEAST 3000rmb a month. My expenses seem to come from TaoBao (Tmall) and side travelling trips eek!
7. I did San Da for a few months here. So classes are definitely accessible (very close to East side apartments - closer than our work actually!). There's also Tae Kwan Do. However the instructors don't speak English, so if you speak Chinese it'll make it a lot easier. If all else fails though, there's bound to be some students who can speak enough English to tell you which combination etc to do. If you come here, I'll leave my San Da outfit for you so that you don't have to buy it.
8. The campus environment is conducive to walking and running. After a few months you might find it a little restrictive but your students and other teachers can show you places to go. There's swimming pools here to swim in. The thought of my students seeing me in my bikini has been enough to deter me from using them, however there's a few close by that are a little more expensive, but that allow you to avoid students and the dumpling stew effect. Hiking... Nanning is flat. I remember going to Thailand after 6 months here and being incredibly excited by walking up and down hills again. To be fair, I am a little odd at times, so that could just be me.
9. I teach second year English, so I have 2 classes of 40 students, so 80 main students and then for 6 or so weeks I have another 20 random students for EIC. As a whole my students are excellent - we e-mail, text, talk on QQ, play mahjong, go to KTV, make movies (yes really, and I am an awful actress), eat lunch together etc. There's definitely a mix in the interest level, but I found that as long as I could make the content relevant than their interest wasn't to hard to obtain. SCIC is a gateway course for most of these students to get into their chosen degrees, so they need to pass, however most of them won't need English in their fields (accountancy etc). I combated this right off with presentations of the merits of learning English across our lifetimes (professional, personal, entertainment etc). Seemed to do the trick!
10. I have found that mixing culture into course content helped with interest (as previously mentioned) so I feel that it's just an inherent component of teaching in a foreign country. I use debating in class already, however some students involved in extra curricular activities greatly enjoy teacher aided assistance and knowledge. If they know you have the skills, most of them will ask you for them. Again I discuss current events with my students every week, it's a great source of discussion as well as providing an insight into some bright young and occasional very group and party minded minds.
11. I've answered this already, but as I'm not sure what information you have previously been presented with I will attempt to outline SCIC courses in as simple way as possible! There are...
- 1st year English Teachers (40 students - teach reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
- 2nd year English Teachers (80 students - teach academic and business writing, listening and speaking)
- 2nd year Content Teachers (200 + students - teach whatever course they have a background in/have provided a curriculum for)
In brief, I recommend SCIC I think it's a great place to work. Most difficulties here can be over come. If you have a bit of a laissez-faire attitude then there's nothing really to be bothered about here. Most of the teachers are pretty cool, everyone who works with SCIC are great. There's the possibility to form some genuine relationships with foreign students, as well as some of the owners of the regularly visited beverage and food places. Given time and patience you can find pretty much anything here - baseball games, rock climbing, heavy metal bands etc. However a working knowledge of Chinese is pretty darn handy here - the level of English outside of the university can make some tasks appear insurmountable at times (like.... hey where does this bus go? even when asked in Chinese occasionally you'll get a 'wo bu quay shou yingu') hilariously frustrating. Oh also, lawoai are rarer here than in other places. So be prepared for staring and hello's. You're already in China, so I'm sure you get what I mean.
Also, all the recruiting is done via a Canadian woman Margo, she's pretty good with answering questions etc and for me it made the process a little less painful.
Any questions feel free to ask, I will however probably post your questions (anonymously) on here.
Cheers Saloonies, man zou!